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Fireballs! 'Tis the season for massive meteors.

Tonight (April 23) through Friday at dawn may be your best chance of the year to spot a fireball, a meteor that shines brighter than Venus, the brightest planet in the sky.

In this picture provided by Wally Pacholka of, a Geminid fireball explodes over the Mojave Desert in the Jojave Desert, Calif. on Dec. 13, 2009. Unlike this Geminid fireball, the fireball-watching in the next few nights isn't connected to the just-completed Lyriad meteor shower or any other regular meteor shower.

Wally Pacholka / / AP

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The dramatic fireball that exploded over Russia in February got many people wondering if there is any way to anticipate future dazzling meteors before they appear.

Well, meteors not associated with an annual shower are certainly tough to predict. But there are some patterns that skywatchers can keep in mind to maximize their chances of spotting a fireball (which technically is any meteor that shines more brightly than Venus in the sky).

For example, springtime is "fireball season," when the number of bright meteor sightings increases by as much as 30 percent, NASA experts say. And the three-day stretch from Tuesday (April 23) to Thursday (April 25) is perhaps the best time to watch for the next prospective fireball event, which might possibly even lead to the fall of a meteorite. 

Over the years, some real dazzlers have been seen during this time frame. And in at least two cases, the orbits of the meteors were virtually identical, suggesting Earth might hit more such space rocks when it passes through this part of its orbit.

A river of rubble?

Is there perhaps a "river of rubble" orbiting the sun that is populated by rather large meteoroids?


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